UNMIL FAREWELL Ceremony IN Honour OF Police AND Military personnel
5 February 2018, Monrovia - Over 14 years after UNMIL was deployed in compliance with Security Council resolution 1509 (2003), an official farewell ceremony was held in honour of the departing Police and Military personnel who have served with the Mission. This symbolized the end of UNMIL’s military and police operations in Liberia.
The Mission began in 2003 with 16,475 uniformed personnel and the farewell ceremony was in honour of the last departing 689 uniformed personnel (Military 404 and Police 285). The Force Commander Major General Salihu Zaway Uba, heads UNMIL’s Military component of men and women from various countries including: Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine. While the Police Commissioner Simon Blatchly Heads the Formed Police Unit composed of Nigerian and Chinese personnel. Since 2003, 61 contingents from various countries have served in Liberia.
According to Force Commander Major General Salihu Zaway Uba, the Mission’s uniform component military and police have taken greater stride towards strengthening peace and security, rule of law, governance among others in Liberia.
The Force Commander stated that it was not all roses particularly for the military which had the highest fatalities of 138 personnel while the police lost 21 persons. “As we are closing, the memory of those 159 persons and others in the Mission will continue to live in our minds, we will continue to pay special tribute to them and those who contributed to peace and security in Liberia” said the Major General.
On behalf of the Police Commissioner Simon Blatchly, the Force Commander expressed their profound appreciation to the uniformed component of UNMIL. “As individual units and contingents, you have done remarkably well to keep the flags high, we are proud of your endeavors as significant contribution to peace in Liberia” he added.
“Today Liberia is a success story and classical example of a post conflict nation that has emerged stronger than ever before, the country is indeed a symbol of hope for other nations engulfed in conflicts and wars” concluded Major General Salihu Zaway Uba.
The United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Farid Zarif, during his speech stated that this event signifies an important benchmark in the history of the United Nations in West Africa, highlighting that the mission in Liberia has been successfully completed with honor and professionalism. “While my colleagues in uniform are writing the last pages of the peacekeeping operations here, Liberians and their Leaders have started writing the first pages of a brand new chapter in their history. The fact that the current circumstances allow the departure of our last contingent indicates that Liberia has reached the point where they feel absolutely confident of their future.” said SRSG Farid Zarif.
The SRSG assured the President that the departure of UNMIL does not mean that the United Nations is leaving. The UN country team is building its capacity in order to continue its support to Liberia. “I have high hopes for this country and I would like to thank every officer, commander, soldier serving today and having served in the past, towards UNMIL’s support to Liberia.” he said.
President George Manneh Weah commended UNMIL for its longstanding support to peace and stability. “A special recognition to you great men and women of the service who left your country and your family to come to Liberia to help keep the peace. The Liberian people will forever remain grateful to you for your bravery and service to our great nation. To UNMIL service, men and women that will be staying in Liberia, remember Liberia is your home. Thank you for your hard work and sacrifice you have made over the years to keep the peace and stability of our beloved mama Liberia. As you leave us now, we will forever remember you.” said President Weah.
The climax of the event was the presentation of regimental colored flags to the Commanders of respective contingents and the presentation of United Nations flags to the Force Commander and Police Commissioner. The handover of flags symbolizes UNMIL relinquishing authority over the military and police forces back to their home country.
The ceremony was attended by dignitaries including the Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, Presidents of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union, members of the diplomatic community in Liberia and United Nations staff.
UNMIL’s drawdown is in full gear and the Mission will officially end its mandate on 30 March 2018.